Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: Mardaani

Rani Can Talk Mardaani, Rani Can Walk Mardaani, Rani Can...

2 stars

Mini Review:

This movie is a showcase for Rani Mukherji. Part 'Taken' part 'Savdhan India: India Fights Back', Mardaani starts out as interesting and then gets so gimmicky you think Sushant Singh is going to pop up on the screen and give gyan before a commercial break.

Main Review:

This is not a cop movie like Dabanng, Singham, Boss or even the ghastly Romeo Rajkumar. Mardaani is a showcase for Rani Mukherji. She's like Arjun Singh vald Bheem Singh vald Dashrath Singh. She can talk English, she can walk English, she can laugh English...

I mean she's so Mardaani she can do everything in the movie. She doesn't need a 'hero', she is the tough talking, tough walking, tough job holding hero. 

But that's where the similarity ends. Her team members always ask her to 'go home'. Would Bollywood dare tell Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn or Akshay Kumar that?

And what does she go home to? A namby pamby husband and an annoying niece who vanishes from the movie without any explanation. But the niggling doubt remained: Why would such a strong woman marry such a wishy washy husband? Would have been fun to see a doctor husband who stitches her up after she gets home from a fight or a doctor husband who teaches her skills with a scalpel, a skill she can later use to cut up baddies...

When they announced the movie, I was glad Rani Mukherji would be back on the big screen. She has more acting chops than most other heroines. But in this movie, she acts and she acts and she acts. Even as a girl dressed up as a boy in that forgettable movie she was better than this fake trash talking cop she plays here. For a chai guzzler like me, it was horrible to see her 'act' as though she was drinking chai. It doesn't happen once. It happens many times. And as a wise old soul sitting next to me commented, 'This full glass is not cutting chai'

Sigh. The same guy said, 'You critics would have slapped the movie hard had it copied Liam Neeson's Taken...' But it's worse realise that the 'auction of the girls' scene from Taken2 is shot way better (where martial art fighters are bid upon) in Man Of Tai Chi directed by Keanu Reeves.

I loved the gritty location of Modern Tailors, and the orphanage. but totally fed up of seeing the gigantic Hanuman as a representative of Delhi in Hindi movies. 

The young villain was interesting for ten minutes, then he got so annoying with his hoodie and the posturing that I almost missed the best line of the movie. Best in terms of the timing and characterization. And it belongs to the young villain. After being his villainous self he casually asks what's for lunch. That is superb timing. Far better than all the clever writing made for sound bytes.

Rani is a natural. That no one can deny. She's awesome when she slaps the baddie as she counts his misdemeanors. But it's a little disappointing when she misses the bright yellow sign of Modern Tailors and asks for directions...

Worst part of the movie? It turns into an annoyingly extended Savdhan India: India Fights Back. This is a very popular TV show (loved by alarmists in all families) hosted by Sushant Singh (and others) where real life crimes are enacted to show how you should be alert to crime in your neighborhood. 

The token Muslim khabri, the handsome Sardar, the creepy politician, the loyal police team, the callous adults at the orphanage all offer a brilliant canvas to Rani Mukherji's talent. Everything is focused on her. Alas, the lofty goal of child trafficking and the grisly ending become too self serving and pompous with the Durga mantras playing in the background. I wish Rani had Dabannged her way into our hearts instead of this trying-so-hard to 'acting' the walk mardaani, talk mardaani, laugh mardaani... 

I'm going to get over her 'acting' here by watching Yuva, Bunty Aur Babli and even her super mini dress avatar in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai again.

P.S. This review was tough to write because the production design was done by a very dear, very talented Madhu Sarkar Kuriakose, whose eye for detail is legendary.